Photo: Reuters
N. Korea's Kim Jong-un
Photo: Reuters

North Korea tells embassies to consider evacuating

UK, Russia, US, China, S. Korea, Japan embassies in N. Korea receive suggestions to evacuate, signifying further escalation in diplomatic status

North Korea has told foreign embassies to consider the possibility of evacuating if tensions flare, China's official Xinhua news agency cited diplomatic sources as saying on Friday.


Britain said on Friday North Korea had asked it if it intended to evacuate its embassy in Pyongyang because of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, but said it regarded the query as part of an anti-US information campaign.


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"We believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them. We are considering next steps, including a change to our travel advice," Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement.


North Korea "has responsibilities under the Vienna convention to protect diplomatic missions," it said.

Britain has a full embassy in Pyongyang which a Foreign Office spokesman said included a small staff. He declined to elaborate.


North Korea has said nuclear conflict could break out at any time on the Korean peninsula, in a month-long war of words that has prompted the United States to move military assets into the region.


Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said North Korea's bellicose rhetoric and threats to attack the US follow a pattern of provocation, followed by nonviolent accommodation.


The top US military official noted that though situation is worrisome, it does not appear to point toward war.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow was in close contact with the United States, China, South Korea and Japan over a North Korean request to consider the possibility of evacuating embassies, Russian news agencies reported.


"The proposal was made to the embassies in Pyongyang, and we are trying to clarify the situation," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying during a visit to Uzbekistan. He was quoted as saying: "We are in close contact with our Chinese partners as well as the Americans, the South Koreans and the Japanese."


Russia's foreign minister says Moscow doesn't understand why North Korea has suggested that Moscow and other countries close their embassies in Pyongyang, and he says he's concerned about the high tensions on the Korean peninsula.


Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted Friday during a visit to Uzbekistan as saying that Russia is in touch with China, the United States, Japan and South Korea – all members of a dormant talks process with North Korea – to try to figure out the motivation.


"We are very perturbed about the supercharged tensions, which for now are verbal. We want to understand the causes of this proposal," Lavrov said, according to the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti.


About two dozen countries have embassies in North Korea. A spokesman for the Russian embassy there, Denis Samsonov, told Russian media that the embassy was working normally.


Russia has appeared increasingly angry with North Korea as tensions roiled following a North Korean nuclear test and the country's subsequent warnings to South Korea and the United States that it would be prepared to attack.


Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich on Thursday strongly criticized North Korea for its "defiant neglect" of UN Security Council resolutions. A ministry statement Friday after the embassy evacuations proposal said "We are counting on maximum restraint and composure from all sides."


A spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said his government was considering its next move in North Korea but that it regarded the North Korean suggestion to embassies as an effort to portray the United States as a threat.



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פרסום ראשון: 04.05.13, 16:49
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